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NBA All-Star 2017: Dunk contest, 3-point, skills challenge fields announced

NBA All-Star 2017: Dunk contest, 3-point, skills challenge fields announced

The fields for each All-Star Saturday night competition were released on Thursday night with Wizards point guard John Wall set to participate in the NBA's skills challenge. He will go up against a variety of other players including guards like Isaiah Thomas and big men like Joel Embiid.

Noticeably absent from the three-point contest was Wizards' forward Otto Porter, who leads the NBA in three-point percentage at 46.2 percent. No Wizards are listed for the NBA's Dunk Contest.

Wall will battle several fellow University of Kentucky alums including Devin Booker (Suns), Anthony Davis (Pelicans) and DeMarcus Cousins (Kings). Also included will be Thomas (Celtics), Embiid (Sixers), Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) and Gordon Hayward (Jazz).

Wall, 26, is having his best season as an NBA player. He is averaging a career-high 22.7 points per game to go along with 10.3 assists and 2.1 steals.

Here are the full groups of participants for this year's NBA All-Star Saturday Night (Feb. 18):

[RELATED: Will the Wizards make a big move at the trade deadline?]

Skills Challenge: Devin Booker (Suns), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), John Wall (Wizards), Isaiah Thomas (Celtics), Joel Embiid (Sixers), Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks), Gordon Hayward (Jazz)

3-point Contest: Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers), Wes Matthews (Mavericks), Kemba Walker (Hornets), Nick Young (Lakers), C.J. McCollum (Blazers), Eric Gordon (Rockets)

Dunk Contest: Derrick Jones, Jr. (Suns), Glenn Robinson, III (Pacers), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Aaron Gordon (Magic)

[RELATED: Bulls' Rajon Rondo calls out teammates in fiery Instagram post]

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Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal


Why (and how) your NBA Cares Community Assist Award vote should go to Bradley Beal

Voting has officially begun for the season-long NBA Community Assist Award, and Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal is a finalist. 

Chosen by fans and an NBA executive panel, the award honors a player’s strong commitment to positively impacting his community through sustained efforts over the course of the season.

In December, Beal visited Ron Brown College Preparatory High school in D.C. to give away two pairs of shoes to every member of the JV and varsity basketball teams.

It didn't stop there. Beal took his role as a mentor to the next level by checking in with the kids multiple times a month to make sure they are on the right track in both athletics and their academic studies.

Later on in February, Beal invited 10 students from RBHS on a private tour of the National African-American History and Culture Museum.

The seven-year NBA veteran also made a point to donate game tickets to community groups and toys to the Salvation Army during the holiday season. 

Here's some key information about the voting process: 

  1. Voting begins: Wednesday, April 24th at 12:01 p.m.
  2. Voting ends: Sunday, May 5th at 11:59 p.m.
  3. How does voting work? Through the above date range, every tweet posted using both of the hashtags #BradleyBeal and #NBACommunityAssist counts as one vote.
  4. Retweets of tweets using the above hashtags also count as one vote

This all comes following another All-Star season that saw the 25-year-old finish with career-highs in points (25.6), rebounds (5.0), and assists (5.5). He played in all 82 regular-season games. 

The winning player will receive $25,000 to their charity of choice, a donation from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.


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The next Damian Lillard will be drafted this June, Ja Morant

The next Damian Lillard will be drafted this June, Ja Morant

On Tuesday night, Portland guard Damian Lillard broke #NBATwitter with his 37-foot, series-clinching buzzer-beater against Oklahoma City. 

It's not the first time we've seen him do that, but it's by far the biggest impact his play has had on the NBA world to this point.

Fair or not, Lillard's image has always been the overlooked underdog.  Even after being named All-NBA First Team last season, it's rare you hear his name mentioned among the NBA's most popular players. 

That attitude is what fuels the Portland Trail Blazers though. It's what the entire roster uses as motivation every game. It's a mindset every team in the NBA should be emulating too, and it starts with their star. 

If you're an organization in the middle of a rebuild, you should be looking no further than Ja Morant if you want this same organizational mindset going forward.

Ja Morant is the next Dame Lillard.

Ja Morant is going to be a star. 

The Wizards are one of those teams, and with the NBA Draft Lottery coming May 14, if the ping pong balls land in their favor, Morant needs to be their pick at No. 2 in the NBA Draft.

Don't worry about any other point guards on the roster and what that means. Don't pass on Morant.

Obviously, No. 1 would mean Zion Williamson, and anything past No. 2 means both are probably off the board, so we'll stick with that No. 2 pick in this case.

Both Lillard and Morant come from small schools in Weber State and Murray State, respectively. Both were under-recruited with Lillard being just a two-star and Morant not even being ranked by recruiting services ESPN, 247Sports, or Rivals.

Lillard was the better three-point shooter coming out of college, but Morant still has range, and can jump out of the gym.

Neither has a ton of size (Lillard 6-2, 185 lbs., and Morant 6-3, 175), but both aren't scared of the spotlight, and step on the court ready to eat the other team alive.

In a star-driven league based so much around player's brands and recognizability, there's something to be said for the guys that have the talent, but haven't been given the stage to show it yet. You get that combination of "chip on their shoulder" mentality with the star potential and work ethic biggy backing it. 

One of the best movie lines ever spoken was in Remember the Titans when Julius tells Gerry "attitude reflects leadership", and it's a mantra any successful team, business, volunteer group, club, or literally any collection of people should follow. 

If you want the right attitude in your locker room, you want leaders that can create it. 

Morant and Lillard share that same leadership, and the results are there to prove it.